okay, perfect #13: the easiest, tastiest pommes dauphinoise
'living in France will be fun' they said
If you’ve been watching Season 1 of La Pitchoune: Cooking in France, you might have learned by now that the bulk of the La Peetch team co-habitates in Grasse, in a former olive oil mill. Perhaps, reader, you’re thinking ‘Wait a second, isn't La Peetch full of problems why would Makenna and Chris buy ANOTHER house that could be full of problems’.
I wonder the sanity of buying Lou Pitchou myself. Almost daily. Not because it’s not a majestic place to live, it truly is. And it gives our whole team space to do what we love best. Chris has room to play music in, I room to paint and write, there’s ample kitchen space, and of course enough gardens for a fully working, 3.5 acre farm. We’re bringing back flowers to the area, which Grasse is known for. And planting obscure heirloom vegetables. (Which is likely coming in 2024 now, because…We bought a restaurant(!!!!???) more on that later)
BUT, I do question the sanity of having 'this old house’ drama in two places.
Case in point? The heat at La Peetch and the heat at Lou Pitchou are both giving us problems. And we only have one guy who fixes these things. He has yet to manage how he could clone himself. DOMMAGE!
Thankfully, I can afford heating oil. And can afford to have it fixed. Considering the cost of living crisis in the UK, and US. This isn’t a complaint, per se. Just the reality of solving problems. (It took us FIVE electricians to find Paolo, who’s in a few episodes, and who is an utter GODSEND)
In the midst of all the lack of heat, Kendall and I have been furiously testing the last few recipes in my cookbook (which has yet to be named, but we’re working on it!) and keeping the house warm through radiant heat on the stove, and the oven cranking at full blast. Ross has been finalising some projects at La Peetch, and keeping the literally fire burning in our fireplace (which only got cleared for takeoff yesterday). And Chris is in the US visiting Grammy and Momma (and the not as famous Pop, his dad).
Kendall and I finally perfected (and recipe-ed) Pommes Dauphinoise this week. We’ve had it nailed down for a while, but had never actually…measured. anything. Because…Well…Recipe free.
But in writing a cookbook, I am recipe-ing everything in my core repertoire. All the dishes I make for my family and friends, in France. Regularly. (With a few fun Courageous Cooking School adjacent goodies too).
YES! The Cookbook is coming in 2024. We’re still coming up with a title. If you give me a good one, I’ll give you a year in our online school. ;) It’s about fuss-free, French flavors and techniques, that are meant to be shared with the people you love. All French, No Fuss is my current favorite. But we’re still thinking about it!
In that spirit…Here’s a FREE recipe for everyone. Because it’s too good not to share. But if you haven’t joined at the paid level, here’s an opportunity if you want all the back recipes and future recipes too.
I had someone on Instagram ask me recently how I avoid getting my Pommes Dauphinoise oily. And there are a couple key tricks:
Picking your potatoes. You want a thin skinned, not waxy potato. The best are the Long White/California white potatoes. They look Russet-like but have a much thinner skin which means…NO PEELING. If you use russets, you’ll need to peel. Purple potatoes are good for this too. (Think about potatoes that get fluffy, that’s what we’re going for here)
Using juuuust enough butter but not too much.
Using a high-fat heavy cream
Salted Butter, softened slightly
2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and cleaned of dirt (peeled if you’re using a thick skinned variety)
Pint of Cream (Or Half and Half, but I prefer cream, I think this dish isn’t very decadent without cream.)
Aromatics: see ‘how to do this thing’ for ideas
How to do this thing:
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
Pick your baking dish. I like ceramic, about about 12-inches square. MadeIn’s Nancy Silverton edition is a favorite around these parts. Butter the dish with a veil-thin layer of salted butter.
Get a saucepan, pour in the cream, and then toss in a whole shloooop of aromatics. My go to is 4-6 cloves of garlic smashed, a couple grating of fresh nutmeg, 3-5 sprigs of rosemary or thyme, parsley stems I have lying around, and 1-2 teaspoons of peppercorns, as many bay leaves as you’re willing to part with. Most things work here, if they sound good together, they likely will be.
Bring to a boil. Turn off, and cover. Let sit to infuse for at least 5 minutes while you slice your potatoes. Or you can make a salad too and let this sit to infuse even longer. You want this cream to be VERY flavorful. Taste it once it’s cool enough not to burn the dickens out of your mouth. And make sure it’s VERY strongly scented. This is your main flavoring for your potatoes.
Slice your potatoes about 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline or with a knife. I use a mandoline for ease, because you want the potatoes to be equal in thickness for the most part so they cook evenly.
Strain your cream infusion into a bowl. Now….To assemble.
Pour about two tablespoons of the cream mixture to lightly coat the bottom. Then, shingle your potatoes into the buttered baking dish. Overlapping each one about 1/4 of the way over it’s neighbor. One row at a time. One you have the bottom of your baking dish covered with a row, spoon on about 1/4 cup of cream. Add one hearty pinch of salt over the whole surface of the potato and cream, and a few cracks of pepper.
Continue the process for another layer or two (this will depend on your dish size) and your potato size. Top with the rest of the cream, salt, and pepper.
Pop into oven for about 25 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown, and most of the cream has been absorbed into the potatoes.
Cut into ‘slices’ much like you would a sheet cake. And devour heartily.
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